Uncle Dave and the Ham

My uncle Dave has the gift of storytelling. And has my whole life. At family gatherings growing up, he and his cousins Mike and John would tell tall tales and long-winded story jokes. Many you would have heard the time before but then some would be new. I think that was something that I miss more than anything about not having those family gatherings, those same stories being told again and again.

Dave Scharf and Kristan

A few months ago, we were in our hometown for my husband’s uncle’s funeral. Dave had gone to school with one of his siblings and stopped in to pay his respects. I had not seen him since my brother’s funeral though we exchanged Christmas packages and notes.

Margaret Scharf and her son David at his graduation from Purdue

We talk about this and that, the minor catching up the way people do. I ask him about a family tradition that I had no idea how it started and turns out he also had no idea why we put a large pencil in the Christmas tree. I make an off handed comment about it being a family tradition we will never know why. He replies well you must be careful about those; you know about the ham right?

And with that he launches into the story I have heard many times in different formats (that meat usually changes) and I am instantly 10 years old and back at the giant table with all the grownups trying to stay quiet and under the radar so I can listen and soak it all up.

Jim and Dave Scharf

Once a woman was making a ham for a fancy dinner. Remembering the way her grandmother did it, she cut off the ends and then place it in the baking dish to cook. Her child asked why she cut off the ends and she replied, well I am not very sure, my grandmother did it that way and I know my mother did it that way, it is just the way we cook the ham in this family. I am sure it makes it taste better.  The child mentioned this to the great-grandmother about why the ends were cut off the ham before cooking. The great-grandmother looked quizzically at the child and said, because my baking dish was too small.

My Uncle Dave tells it much better. 😊  

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